Law & Practice

An Entrepreneur’s Journey to Protect IP: Tealosophy

Published: April 26, 2022

Selena Altro

Selena Altro Selena Altro Paperman Montreal, Canada Public Information Committee

For small business owners, trademarks are often an essential element that enables them to grow their business. Just ask Ines Berton, founder, president, and CEO of Tealosophy, an Argentinian tea maker who leveraged her marks to stay afloat and continue to expand her brand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms. Berton grew up in Buenos Aires in a home where intellectual property (IP) was a frequent topic at the dinner table. Her father, grandfather, and two brothers work in the field, and the value of protecting one’s brand was instilled in her early.

Trained as a perfumer in the South of France, she moved to New York City to follow her passion for painting. While working at a museum, she spent much of her free time at the tea shop downstairs.

After the owner invited Ms. Berton to create her own tea blends, she followed her creative instincts, mixed with a bit of entrepreneurial spirit, and began to pursue tea making as a career.

The budding entrepreneur founded her company, Tealosophy, out of her home in Buenos Aires in 2001. After just six months, Ms. Berton opened her first store in the small neighborhood of Recoleta. Then, one year later, she opened a tea processing plant and an office.

Ms. Berton creates her own unique tea blends, using authentic ingredients from around the world, including vanilla from Madagascar, spices from Burma, and red fruits from Patagonia. She has blended teas for the Dalai Lama and the Queen and King of Spain, as well as for many other famous people and well-known brands.

As Ms. Berton’s company was expanding and Tealosophy was becoming known outside of Argentina, Ms. Berton knew that she had to protect the brand in other countries. While a huge challenge to protect the trademark in various countries, she was able to register her Tealosophy trademark in 19 jurisdictions around the world, including the European Union and the United States.

“Your creativity and vision are your biggest capital, so being protected and feeling protected is necessary,” she declared.

Tealosophy’s expansion has included opening three stores in Buenos Aires. She also sells tea to more than 400 hotels and restaurants and supplies corporate gifts for well-known companies, including American Express, Chanel, Citibank, Hermes, HSBC, Lexus, and Mercedes Benz.

She has won several awards for her endeavors, including receiving an award in 2010, for Innovation at Salon International de l’alimentation (SIAL), a food processing industry trade fair in Paris, France.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Ms. Berton’s customer base naturally shrunk as hotels and restaurants worldwide closed their doors. She knew she needed to adapt to the new reality to ensure that Tealosophy stayed afloat.

First, Ms. Berton upgraded her e-commerce strategy and began developing new products, including “tea as a hug in a cup” and corporate gifts such as tea boxes. In addition, she designed virtual experiences for many companies, including team-building activities in which employees worked together to create the perfect tea blend. Tealosophy’s e-commerce grew 2,700 percent during 2021, and she hopes it will keep growing.

Today, her three stores remain open, and she is working on opening another new store in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Ms. Berton also does private labeling for her teas.

Looking to the future, she plans to expand her business in other areas, such as green tea travel-sized soaps for hotels and a line of tea syrups for bartenders. She has also branched out into music, in collaboration with Warner Music, to produce a CD “Tealosophy, music for a tea generation.”

Ms. Berton’s philosophy is reflective of a true entrepreneur: “If we are going to dream, we might as well dream big,” she said.

Editor’s note: Ms. Berton is the sister of Juan Berton Moreno (Berton Moreno IP Law, Argentia), chair of INTA’s Public Information Committee, Survival Kit Subcommittee.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2022 International Trademark Association

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